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Posted: 02/26/14

Bruce Twp development
gains water and sewer

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce officials have expanded the township's water and sewer services for a potential 165-unit development.
       A 4-1 vote from the Board of Trustees will extend the water and sewer districts to a potential residential development at 33 Mile and McKay roads, possibly leading to relief for the township's sewer debt.
       Treasurer Deborah Obrecht was the dissenting vote at the Feb. 19 meeting.
       Developers are seeking a Planned Residential Community (PRC) on 57.5 acres in the northwest corner of 33 Mile and McKay roads. The project would build 165 single family units with up to three units per acre, but property owner Mike Demil said it wouldn't be feasible without water and sewer.
       Demil said the area is one of the only properties along the township's sewer line that isn't a part of it. The property is also adjacent to the current water district.
       "It seems like it's a win-win, I don't know what the argument is," he said.
       Obrecht objected to the expansion because it wasn't consistent with the Master Plan, and that residents living in the area expected 2.5-acre lots, not the sizes proposed by the plan.
       "Just because somebody bought something and they don't like the density they can get it's not the board's responsibility to make it probable for them," she said.
       Trustee Paul Okoniewski said he would prefer the township examine all options in trying to deal with its $2.5 million sewer fund debt.
       "We have to look at what is best to bring the debt down," he said.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann added that the township has seen rate increases from Detroit Water and Sewerage because it doesn't have the expected amount of customers in the industrial district.
       "The sewer fund is in drastic need of customers," Brockmann said.
       Obrecht also brought up concerns about capacity. She said in 2010 the sewer district was expanded to add Twin Brooks and two parcels north of it, while Springbrook is allocated 80,600 gallons a day.
       Brockmann said additional capacity is available for Bruce Township from Romeo's waste water treatment plant. The township uses about 175,000 gallons a day out of its 550,000-gallon capacity.
       Aside from possible relief to the sewer debt, safety would be improved in the area. Bruce-Romeo Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve recommended the parcels gain access to water and sewer for fire hydrants.
       "Regardless of what that density is, it's critical that we have fire protection capability there," he said.
       The Planning Commission's decision to recommend denial or approval of the development doesn't affect the water and sewer district. Similarly, approval of the expansion doesn't affect the commission's decision on the project's density.
       Some of the 27 property owners that belong to a special assessment district to pay for water and sewer in the industrial area attended the meeting. Brockmann told them the expansion won't alleviate what they pay, but the new developer wouldn't join for free.
       "Whoever goes in this particular part of the water and sewer district will be paying their own share of the pipe fees," she said.
       In addition, a lateral benefit fee would be applied, meaning anyone not a part of the special assessment district pays for infrastructure, but also $5,000 each for water and sewer. For this project, the developer would pay $20,000 for the two parcels involved.
       In addition to water and sewer, the developers are seeking a rezoning from residential one family to residential multiple family. Supervisor Richard Cory said the township will hold public hearings prior to approvals.
       "This is a big decision, there are pros and cons and we're going to try and make a decision that is right for the township, not what is right for a developer or right for people that just own property out there on 33 Mile Road," he said.


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Retrieved 4/24/2014 at 10:48:56 PM.
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